mid·wife (mĭd’wīf′)
n. pl. mid·wives (-wīvz′) 1) A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth. 2) One who assists in or takes a part in bringing about a result: »

"In the Renaissance, artists and writers start to serve as midwives of fame"

(Carlin Romano).
tr.v. mid·wifed, mid·wif·ing, mid·wifes or mid·wived (-wīvd′) or mid·wiv·ing (-wī′vĭng) or mid·wives (-wīvz′) 1) To assist in the birth of (a baby). 2) To assist in bringing forth or about: »

"Washington's efforts to midwife a Mideast settlement"

[Middle English midwif : probably mid, with (from Old English; see me-2) + wif, woman (from Old English wīf; see WIFE(Cf. ↑wife)).]
Word History: The word midwife was formed in Middle English from two elements, mid and wife. At first glance, the meaning of wife would would seem to be clear. However, wife often meant simply "woman" in general in Middle English, not specifically "female spouse" as it most often does in Modern English. The other element in midwife, the prefix mid-, is probably the Middle English preposition and adverb mid, meaning "together with." Thus a midwife was literally a "with-woman"—that is, "a woman who is with another woman and assists her in giving birth." The etymology of obstetric is even more descriptive of a midwife's role. Its Latin source obstetrīx, "a midwife," is formed from the verb obstāre, "to stand in front of," and the feminine suffix -trīx; the obstetrīx would thus literally stand in front of the baby as it was being born.

Word Histories. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • midwife — [mid′wīf΄] n. pl. midwives [mid′wīvz΄] [ME midwyf < mid, with < OE (< Gmc mithi < IE * meti < base * me > MID1, Ger mit, Gr meta) + wif, woman (see WIFE): basic sense “woman with, woman assisting”] a person (now, esp., a… …   English World dictionary

  • Midwife — Mid wife , v. i. To perform the office of midwife. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Midwife — Mid wife , n.; pl. {Midwives}. [OE. midwif, fr. AS. mid with (akin to Gr. ?) + ? woman, wife. Properly, the woman or wife who is attendant upon a woman in childbirth. See {Meta }, and {Wife}.] A woman who assists other women in childbirth; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Midwife — Mid wife , v. t. To assist in childbirth. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • midwife — (n.) c.1300, woman assisting, lit. woman who is with (the mother at birth), from M.E. mid with (see MID (Cf. mid)) + wif woman (see WIFE (Cf. wife)). Cognate with Ger. Beifrau …   Etymology dictionary

  • midwife — ► NOUN ▪ a nurse who is trained to assist women in childbirth. DERIVATIVES midwifery noun. ORIGIN probably from obsolete mid «with» + WIFE(Cf. ↑wifely) (in the sense «woman») …   English terms dictionary

  • Midwife — A person trained to assist a woman during childbirth. Many midwives also provide prenatal care for pregnant women, birth education for women and their partners, and care for mothers and newborn babies after the birth. A midwife may be a man or a… …   Medical dictionary

  • midwife — 1. noun /ˈmɪd.waɪf/ a) A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth, but who is not a physician. A hundred years ago, a midwife would bring the baby into the world going to a hospital to deliver a baby was either… …   Wiktionary

  • midwife — [14] A midwife is etymologically a ‘with woman’. The mid element represents the long extinct preposition mid ‘with’ (its Germanic relatives are still alive and well: German mit, Dutch met, and Swedish and Danish med). Wife preserves the original… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • midwife — UK [ˈmɪdˌwaɪf] / US noun [countable] Word forms midwife : singular midwife plural midwives UK [ˈmɪdˌwaɪvz] / US a nurse whose job is to look after women when they are giving birth to a baby …   English dictionary

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